We’ve heard rumblings this week that there is an increasing riff between the Mariners front office and the coaching staff, including manager Don Wakamatsu. This came up when Chone Figgins was openly defiant of Wakamatsu in the dugout the other day yet wasn’t disciplined in any way. Geoff Baker reports today, however, that the problems go all the way back to this past offseason.
Baker reports that the Mariners’ coaching staff begging for more offense, but that in their eyes “the front office did zero to make the offense better.” Adrian Beltre was allowed to walk without an offer. Figgins came in but, because of other holes, was moved to second base. No one had any confidence in the Milton Bradley or Casey Kotchman trades. They viewed the Mike
Sweeney signing as a sign of desperation. Baker also writes that “they knew Ken Griffey Jr. was done like an overcooked
Thanksgiving turkey.” A
Finally, and most damningly for front office/dugout relations, Baker writes that Wakamatsu and company were dumbfounded when, after the team got off to such a slow start, Jack Z fired hitting coach Alan Cockrell. It was the roster’s fault, the staff believed. Not Cockrell’s.
It’s striking, isn’t it, that despite all the hype surrounding the Mariners’ offseason moves — and remember back to January-March; there was a ton of hype — those moves not only proved to be poor ones in large part, but have served to create no small amount of in-house friction in Seattle.
Runnin’ a baseball team: it ain’t an easy business.
One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.
In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.
As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:
There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.
Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.
As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.
(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)
There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.
McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.
Such assumptions were inoperative:
The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.